by Helen Cox, Sustainability Division Manager, City of Thousand Oaks
Thousand Oaks is proud to be recognized as a Bee City, USA following unanimous approval by the City Council at its February 29 meeting. The certification acknowledges the efforts of the Landscaping Maintenance Division to support pollinator habitat in the community through the use of appropriate landscaping plants and trees, the protection of foraging areas, and an integrated pest management program.
Entire species of native bees and other pollinators, which are vital to the survival of most flowering plants and trees, are disappearing at an alarming rate due to loss of habitat, pesticide use, disease and parasites. In fact, reproduction of ninety percent of the world’s wild plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume rely on imperiled pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, bats, hummingbirds, and others. Bee City, USA is a nonprofit national organization that encourages everyone to support pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free of pesticides as far as possible.
The City supports these goals by the use of landscape plants which provide a nectar source, utilizing native species, and protecting intact ecosystems which provide nesting sites. In addition, when bee hives are discovered in places that pose a potential risk, rather than being destroyed, they are carefully relocated to a more appropriate location. We employ a policy to effectively manage pests in an environmentally-sensitive manner. These strategies include the release of millions of ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises annually into public parks and landscaped public rights of way. This practice, utilized by the City since 1994, serves as an economical and reliable solution to minimizing pests while sustaining healthier, more cohesive ecosystems and avoids the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, which have been linked to bee decline worldwide. The City employs biochar and only organic fertilizers on its landscaped areas.
We encourage all our community members to follow these same environmentally-responsible practices on their own properties. Use climate-appropriate and native plants, avoid the use of pesticides wherever possible and utilize ladybugs and other natural solutions instead. For a pollinator plant list go to: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CaliforniaPlantList_web.pdf or check out the plant guides at: http://theodorepayne.org/education/plant-guides/